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Darker gloss, but the same lovelorn hell. - 84%

hells_unicorn, December 13th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Phonotraxx Publishing (Digipak)

After attacking the same basic premise for more than a decade, one might think that it would be difficult to keep a fresh perspective on things, but doing so is ultimately what separates the consistent bands from a lot of the better known ones out there. That is sort of the dilemma that befalls a band such as Dawn Of Destiny, a band out of the mid-2000s female-fronted power metal craze with a slight symphonic tilt that would put them into similar territory as that of Krypteria, Xandria and Nightwish, yet find themselves in more of an obscure position despite having a much more consistent sound. To be clear, Dawn Of Destiny's general consistency in output is best comparable to their far more symphonic-oriented Dutch contemporaries Epica, who have been putting out albums in the same basic style and have seen no significant shifts in personnel, though this outfit did see the departure of a lead vocalist that somehow impacted the band's overall sound very little.

The entry of this band's sixth studio offering To Hell finds the basic structure remaining the same, though some peripheral contrasts have presented themselves. These mostly come in the form of a darker and heavier feel, continuing a trend that first began to emerge for this band on their third opus Human Fragility and came to a bit of a head on the previous LP F.E.A.R.. It's most obvious on quasi-thrashing, almost melodic death metal tinged takes on things like "Scream", "Fire" and "Burn In The Fire", featuring a far more percussive, biting riff set and the latter song taking it a step further by bringing in Soilwork vocalist Björn Strid to bring in an actual Gothenburg element to heighten the beauty and the beast tendency that this band has always exhibited a bit further. The power metal element is naturally not sacrificed in the process and the chorus sections find soaring clean vocals and gripping hooks carrying the day.

Barring a higher degree of punch and maybe a slightly more technical demeanor, the fundamental point of this band's longstanding consistency is not sacrificed, if not further underscored by those occasional twists. The beautifully catchy and flowing, vocal oriented duet "From Paradise" has all the makings of a typical concise nod to early 2000s Nightwish as often heard on Human Fragility and Praying To The World, but has a really prominent violin part jazzing things up. Similarly, when things get into longer territory on "Hateful Heart" and "Only The Ocean Knows", the piano and clean guitar lines that paint the more serene sections are just a bit more elaborate than expected, but that brilliant emulation of what Tarja and Marco accomplished on Century Child by Jens Faber and Jeanette Scherff steals the show. Arguably the only song on here that doesn't really introduce some peripheral additive to keep things sounding different from times before is the title song "To Hell", which sounds 100% like one of a number of straightforward rockers off the Tanja Maul era.

The reason why the bigger name bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation tend to get a fair bit of grief is because in their efforts as trailblazers of the style they tend to feel the need to wholly reinvent themselves every couple albums, if not every single studio release. Even somewhat less prominent acts such as Amberian Dawn and Xandria have a habit of falling into this trap of making a sudden and extreme shift in direction at least once or twice, resulting in a potentially alienated original audience, in spite of which era of development proves to be the superior one. Dawn Of Destiny works on a much more gradual wavelength, and though they have not ascended to the level of popularity as some of their forerunners, they are definitely a band that takes care to maintain a consistent base. To Hell is a solid, if perhaps somewhat less impressive continuation of where things were on Praying To The World, and it is a sound that bears repeating.